TN status

TN status was created by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for the purpose of easing the entry of Canadian and Mexican citizens who come to the U.S. to work temporarily.
To be eligible for TN status you must: 
  1. Be a citizen of Canada or Mexico
  2. Engage in activities at a professional level -“Professional level” refers to occupations which require the individual to have at least a baccalaureate degree or appropriate credentials in a profession set forth in Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA.
  3. Enter the U.S. on a temporary basis -Temporary entry, as defined in NAFTA, means entry without the intent to establish permanent residence. You must satisfy the U.S. consular officer or inspecting immigration officer that the proposed stay is temporary. A temporary period has a reasonable, finite end that does not equate to permanent residence. For this reason, TN status is not appropriate if you hold a tenure-track appointment.
  4. Only work for the petitioner performing the duties described in the offer letter.

TNs can be admitted for a period of up to three years.  As long as all eligibility criteria are met, TN status can be renewed indefinitely.
Dependents of TN status holders are granted TD status. TD status holders are not allowed to accept employment or receive payment of any kind. 
New TN Status upon Entry to the U.S. 

At the port-of-entry (by land or by air), Canadian TN applicants must present the documents listed below to the U.S. immigration inspector for adjudication.  Mexican applicants must first apply for a TN visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, providing the documents listed below as a part of the visa application.   Presentation of these documents is not a guarantee that the TN visa (for Mexicans only), or TN status and entry to the U.S. will be granted.  The U.S. consular official or immigration officer will evaluate each case on its own merits, and according to the federal rules governing TN status.
Required Documents
The following are required for entry to the U.S. in TN status:
  • A valid unexpired Canadian or Mexican passport as proof of citizenship
  • Proof of possession of a professional degree in a field listed in the appendix of occupations found in the TN regulations
    • Degrees, diplomas, or certificates received by the beneficiary from an educational institution located outside of the U.S., Canada, or Mexico must be accompanied by a certified translation or reliable credentials evaluation service which specializes in such evaluations.
  • A job verification letter from a U.S. employer for a professional position, describing the work to be done, the beginning and ending dates of the employment, payment arrangements, and a review of your qualifications which demonstrate professional status
  • Fee payment
    • Canadian nationals will pay a fee to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). 
    • Mexican nationals will pay a fee at the U.S. consulate for the TN visa, but no fee to CBP at the U.S. port-of-entry.

At the U.S. port-of-entry, if all is in order, the TN status will be granted. The TN status will be marked on your Form I-94 and in the passport.  It may be valid for a period of up to three years from the date of entry, and can be extended for up to three years at a time (for TN status, there must be an approved appointment and guaranteed funding for the requested TN period). There is no maximum amount of time that you may hold this status. However, you must not have the intent to establish permanent residence in the U.S.  You must satisfy the consular officer or U.S. immigration officer that the proposed stay is temporary.
Upon the Arrival of the TN Status Holder
Upon arrival to the U.S. and completion of the inspection process, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will stamp your passport with the date of admission, your visa classification, and your period of admission.  These notations are very important as they are evidence of your admission to the U.S. and the date through which you are authorized to stay.

You can retrieve the electronic record of your admission, the I-94, from the
U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.
Be aware that federal regulations regarding passport validity at the time of admission to the U.S. require your passport to be valid for a minimum of six months beyond your authorized period of stay. If your passport is not valid for this amount of time beyond your authorized stay, the admission officer will only give you lawful presence in the U.S. on your I-94 to match your passport validity period.
Changes to TN Status and Extensions of Stay in TN Status 
Changes from one nonimmigrant status to TN status as well as extensions of TN status may be accomplished either by ISFS filing of a petition with USCIS or by exiting and reentering the U.S.  Please note that citizens of Mexico must have or obtain a valid TN visa before applying for entry to the U.S.